Paging Angelico

From a fragment about a boy who one day decides he wants to place his lips on every square inch of his body. The part I’m most interested in here, for the sake of this post, begins around 26:20 ends around 29:00. DFW was a great fan of self-help books; did he ever, do you suppose, take a gander at Lost in the Cosmos?


  1. Quin Finnegan says

    Nice find, BB. I remember reading this when it first appeared in the New Yorker, maybe a year or so before The Pale King, and thought it was the funniest thing since … maybe one of the stories in Oblivion.

  2. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says



    The above story, by the bye, became a chapter in The Pale King.


    As for your question whether self-help reader Wallace ever read ‘The Last Self-Help Book’, I’ve been trying, in a low-priority and desultory way, to find an answer for the last few years; so far, no luck. What I have found are three evidences that Wallace read Percy:

    1) D.T. Max, in his Wallace biography, Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story, reports, on the basis of one of Wallace’s letters circa 1991, that ‘Walker Percy gave him “the creeps”’ (New York: Viking, 2012, Nook edition, p. 163). Those six words are the only words about Percy in the whole biography.

    2) The Harry Ransom Center’s* David Foster Wallace Library at the University of Texas at Austin has Wallace’s annotated copy of The Moviegoer.

    (I would dearly like to read those annotations.)

    3) The Moviegoer was among the nine texts on the syllabus for Wallace’s English 170R course at Pomona College in Spring 2003 — a course he taught five-and-a-half years before he made his exitus into deep space.

    (I would dearly like to read Wallace’s and his students’ notes from that course, and from any other occasions when he might have put The Moviegoer on a syllabus.)

    Research continues — still at a low priority, still desultorily, unless and until anybody wants to ghost-write me a grant proposal. Meantime, if anyone has more information on anything Wallace had read of, or written about, Percy, kindly throw me that bone, there’s a good chap.

  3. Louise Orrock says

    Self help reminds me that I saw a reference of some sort to Samuel Smiles when I was travelling by ship in the summer, but I can’t now remember what I exactly made me think of it.

  4. Louise Orrock says

    I tried to delete the ‘I’ in case it’s thought I can no longer write. I am a bit stressed because I thought someone had come in and rummaged through and damaged something I had just brought back to the flat, but I might be wrong and my instinct that it had been bent out of shape was incorrect.

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